Translation:František is not interested in that strange person.
zajímá is actually much like "interests":
- That strange person interests me. the object of my interest is in the nominative and serves as the subject of the verb. "me" is in the remnant of the accusative. Ten zvláštní člověk mě zajímá. is conveniently almost word for word.
we can make "me" the subject. but then we need to either switch to the "be interested" construction or express it differently:
- I am interested in that strange person. czech does this reversal for this verb (and others) by adding the "se": Zajímám se o toho zvláštního člověka.
I've read all the discussion about this sentence. Having previously studied Latin, I understand the Czech declensions of nouns, nominative, accusative etc, but what I think particularly throws people and made me look twice in this exercise is the word order, i.e. accusative>verb. Can I ask, is there a rule in Czech for situations where the accusative comes before the nominative, or is it just something that is according to the whim of the speaker/writer?
I've read the comments below, and I feel this answer needs to be changed.
"To interest" and "To be interested in" are two different verbs. From what I've read, "To interest" is "Zajímat" and "To be interested in" is "Zajímat se," and even though the MEANING may be interchangeable in Czech (just like in English), they should be treated separately in the literal English translation if the focus is on nominative vs. accusative. Otherwise, this is super confusing for learners.
If František is in the accusative (Františka) then he MUST be the recipient of the action in which case the literal translation is, "That strange person does not interest František."
"That strange person does not interest František" is among the accepted translations, and your logic is sound.
But I would suggest, as a fellow learner, that, while the whole "X is interested in Y / Y interests X" thing is definitely confusing, the teaching purpose of switching things up may be to demonstrate that there are two ways of making the same point, and they involve different word orders -- just as they do in English.
While I might be curious to know why Option A, rather than Option B, was chosen as a the main translation, It wouldn't prevent me from sooner or letter "getting the message." :-) (As always, just one person's opinion!)
It must be wrong. Other examples show that František is the subject who is interested in sth.: O to se František nezajima = František is not interested in that. František se o ženy nezajímá = František is not interested in women.
But here: Františka ten zvlastni člověk nezajímá = František is not interested in that strange person. -- The only exception would be if the missing reflexive "se" may change the subject to the object.
They are just two ways of saying the same thing:
- František (subject, nominative) se nezajímá o toho člověka (object, locative). = František is not interested in the person.
- Františka (object, accusative) nezajímá ten člověk (subject, nominative). = The person does not interest František. (not very common in English)
So, yes, the missing "se" changes a lot. It's very important if a verb is reflexive (se, si) or not. Compare:
- František učí matematiku. = František teaches math.
- František se učí matematiku. = František studies math.
- Matěj půjčil peníze (Františkovi). = Matěj lent money (to František).
- Matěj si půjčil peníze (od Františka). = Matěj borrowed money (from František).
Two ways of saying the same thing, in both languages:
- František (subject) is interested in Matěj. - František (subject) se zajímá o Matěje.
- Matěj (subject) interests František. - Matěj (subject) zajímá Františka. = Františka zajímá Matěj.
Both Czech and English are able to express the same idea with person A as the subject or person B as the subject. While the second way is not very natural in English, Czech is fine with both ways. Don't be fooled by the word order though.